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226 posts categorized "14) Fish/Seafood, Pasta & Vegetarian Too"

09/08/2018

~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~

In my food world, one of the most common background noises is the chatter of friends or family talking about the great price they scored on a basket or flat of prime produce. It's big news. Last week I was the one bragging about the flat of perfect mangos I toddled into my kitchen with. At 2-for-$1, it was exciting news. On par with fresh pineapple, mangos are my favorite exotic fruit. Similar in taste and texture to peaches, my first taste of this juicy stone fruit came in Thailand, where a mango hedgehog* was served, compliments of the hotel,...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~"

09/03/2018

~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~

Coleslaw -- creamy and crunchy, sweet, savory and nicely-spiced, coleslaw is a make-my-day side-dish and my favorite sloppy-sandwich topper. There's more. By swapping out a few herbs and spices, coleslaw, "the chameleon of side-dishes", any coleslaw recipe can be prepared to complement any cuisine. How convenient is that. I came up with this version to serve with Jamaican-style jerk fare. This simple, lip-smacking recipe has got a bit of coat-your-throat heat. Herein lies the secret to my jerk-seasoned slaw: Leave it to the Jamaicans. I can't think of another exotic-to-me cuisine that does a better job of making my life...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~"

09/01/2018

~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~

In Jamaica, they make a dish called coconut rice and peas -- it's usually served as an accompaniment to Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. This is sort of not it. This is my twist on it. In Jamaica, beans are called peas, more specifically, pigeon peas -- they’re a staple in Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean cooking and are sold canned, dried or fresh. In the Caribbean islands, kidney beans are a common substitution, which is a good, because, up until recently, pigeon peas were not something I could find in my Central PA stores. While...... View full recipe for "~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~"

08/27/2018

~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~

The closest a plantain gets to a ripe banana is the black-streaked yellow plantain. Eaten raw, it still doesn't taste quite like, or have the mouthfeel of, a yellow banana, but, when sautéed, because of its high-starch and fully-developed sugar content, it can do something the banana can't: caramelize without losing its textural integrity. Sweet and caramelized, and slightly-sticky-without-sticking-together, this quick-to-make side-dish is the perfect sweet complement to the fiery-hot flavors of Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. Let's talk plantains: Ripe or unripe, plantains are eaten cooked. The best way for me to culinarily describe the...... View full recipe for "~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~"

08/24/2018

~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~

Bananas and plantains. Plantains and bananas. They resemble each other, and they're even related. I peel and eat a banana almost every morning, but, I can't say the same for the plantain. By accident or out of curiosity, if you've ever peeled a plantain and taken a taste, you knew immediately you were not eating a banana. The best way for me to culinarily describe the difference: If bananas are the sweet dessert, plantains are the savory potatoes. In fact, throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America, plantains are generically referred to as "cooking bananas", and bananas are...... View full recipe for "~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~"

08/21/2018

~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~

There's nothing like driving back from a trip to the Maryland shore with a few pounds of sweet blue crabmeat in a cooler in the back seat. The mind races with all the mouthwatering options to enjoy after you pull in the driveway. While fresh crab is best, happily, high-quality pasteurized crabmeat is available to us all all-year long, which makes my food world a kinder, gentler place. Beer-steaming live crabs and hand-cracking them to pick their meat, is, not a sport I partake in. Ugh. I don't even enjoy sitting at a crab shack in front of a newspaper-covered...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~"

08/19/2018

~ Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ~

If you've ever traveled to the areas in and around the Chesapeake Bay (Annapolis and/or Baltimore, Maryland, or, the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area in general), even if you are not a foodie, you can't help but notice that from white-linen restaurants to roadside stands, crab cakes and crab cake sandwiches are everywhere -- more specifically, Maryland blue crab cakes and blue crab sandwiches. There's more. If you ask any of the locals where to find the best crab cake or crab cake sandwich, you'll find they are fiercely loyal to their favorite place (and be prepared to listen, because they are...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ~"

08/17/2018

~ My Maryland Crabcake, Tomato & Mayo Sandwich ~

When I'm in Maine, you'll find me eating a lobster roll with potato chips. When I'm in Florida, I'll be ordering a blackened mahi-mahi sammie topped with mango salsa. When I'm at home here in Happy Valley, I'm feasting on Pennsylvania sweet corn, Jersey tomatoes and Maryland crab cakes. When I enter my kitchen carrying a few fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes, the first thing I do is grab the Hellmann's, get out the Sunbeam and make a good old-fashioned tomato and mayo sandwich. As much as I adore this down-home Summer indulgence, there is one thing I like more: a tomato-and-mayo sandwich...... View full recipe for "~ My Maryland Crabcake, Tomato & Mayo Sandwich ~"

08/15/2018

~My Texican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast~

Classically, soft-yolked fried eggs, served atop a lightly-fried corn tortilla, accompanied by a scoop of creamy refried beans, then drizzled with a cooked tomato-and-chile-pepper sauce (not fresh salsa), is known as: huevos rancheros. Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, ranch eggs, rancher's eggs or ranch-style eggs was the typical big, bold stick-to-the-ribs start to the long, laborious dawn-to-dusk workdays of cattle ranchers and ranch hands throughout the wide-open cattle-grazing spaces of Mexico and the American Southwest. It wasn't fancy, it was filling. Huevos Rancheros = ingredients on-hand in a ranch kitchen. As long as one can cook an egg, this dish is...... View full recipe for "~My Texican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast~"

08/12/2018

~ Mexican-Style Tomato & Chipotle-Chile Chili Sauce ~

I like salsa fresca (uncooked salsa) as much as the next person, but, when I'm making huevos rancheros (ranch-style eggs) for breakfast or brunch, or, a Mexican-style drowned torta (a sandwich drenched in sauce) for lunch or dinner, I make an all-purpose Mexican-style sauce with a thick, semi-chunky consistency and a smokey, spicy, complex flavor, meaning: a cooked sauce that can be served hot or warm. My 15-20 minute quick-to-make sauce uses on-hand pantry and refrigerator staples. Why? Tick, tock. The people I know wake up hungry -- they don't want to wait or watch me stand around simmering sauce,...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Tomato & Chipotle-Chile Chili Sauce ~"

07/15/2018

~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~

Would you like fries with that? If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you. Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips. When I was growing up, we adored my dad's...... View full recipe for "~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~"

07/12/2018

~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~

Lettuce is not a subject people get excited about. That said, everyone has a preference, nonchalantly placing their favorite variety in their shopping cart as they saunter through the produce department. In our present day food world, it's understandable to take this humble, fragile and perishable vegetable for granted, but, prior to the 1920's, that was not the case. Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads -- salad eating in the colder regions was a seasonal pleasure. Out of season, the cook relied on rugged...... View full recipe for "~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~"

06/07/2018

~ Two Basic Marinades/Sauces for Chinese Stir-Fry ~

The definition of a stir-fry is straightforward: To fry small morsels of meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and/or vegetables rapidly, in a wok or skillet, over a high heat, in a small amount of oil or fat, while stirring constantly. The concept is an easy one to grasp. Stir-fries were invented by the Chinese, but, it was Chinese Cantonese chefs, who specialized in stir-frying, that were amongst the first to immigrate to other Asian and European countries, our USA, then countries all around the world, where, over a relatively short period of time, they put the word stir-fry in the global...... View full recipe for "~ Two Basic Marinades/Sauces for Chinese Stir-Fry ~"

06/04/2018

~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~

The incredible, edible egg. For centuries, the Chinese recognized how good the protein-packed egg is. So much so, eggs are their symbol of the principals-of-life: "yin" being the white, "yang" being the yolk.* Eggs, colored or marbled, celebrate birth, restoration of good health, continued good-luck and/or future prosperity. Dating back to ancient times, eggs of any kind (chicken, duck quail and pigeon) were incorporated into meals all day long (fluffy scrambled tomato eggs, flan-like steamed eggs, omelette-esque egg fu young, wispy egg drop soup, vinegary pickled eggs, tea-flavored smoked eggs, etc.), with mushrooms and/or seafood being common additions. *Note: Yin...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~"

05/28/2018

~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~

In the mid-1950's and throughout the '60's, everybody who entertained was serving French onion dip with their celery and carrot sticks. This simple concoction of Lipton dehydrated onion soup mix and sour cream was a year-round staple on picnic and cocktail tables. Said to have been created by an unknown French cook somewhere in Los Angeles in 1954, as a kid, I loved the stuff. In the 1970's, due to the invention of dehydrated ranch-dressing packets, another dip began appearing at gatherings all across America: Hidden Valley Ranch spinach dip. As a young bride, I loved the stuff. Throughout the...... View full recipe for "~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~"

05/25/2018

~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~

This winner of a weeknight chicken dinner is taken straight from pages of my working parents' playbook. Before heading out the door in the morning, my mom would put four chicken breasts, doused with store-bought Italian dressing, in a bowl, and, at the end of the work day, dad would dredge the breasts in bread crumbs and sauté them in a skillet, while mom cooked a box of kid-friendly pasta and readied some fresh green beans. It was simple and straightforward, nothing fancy, but, it was a dinner we all liked, right down to the vegetable. If we four could...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~"

05/15/2018

~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~

Sweet potatoes -- of the kind that don't come out of a can and end up with marshmallows on top. I've had a love affair with this root vegetable since my first trist with a sweet potato that didn't come out of a can and have marshmallows on top. While I have a high-enough I.Q. to discern why once-upon-a-time in-the-history-of-canned-vegetetables, cooked sweet potatoes were put in those cans, in my lifetime, I will never be smart enough to figure out why those marshmallows got purposefully or experimentally plopped on top. Some answers are best left to the imagination. A sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~"

05/06/2018

~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~

Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's. Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, remarkably, our three kids would eat the side-dishes: the muli-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole. Without complaint or prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto and into tacos, fajitas, carnitas (or whatever else they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour. Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." I started stocking my pantry with whatever Texican-type ingredients I could find in our Central, PA grocery...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~"

04/24/2018

~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~

Cóctel de camarónes. That's Spanish for cocktail of shrimp. If you're a fan of Southwestern spice, but never tasted a shrimp cocktail prepared Mexican-style, I recommend giving this Southwestern perfect-for-Summer twist on the classic a try -- plenty of plump, tender, poached (sometimes lightly-grilled) shrimp, swimming around in a citrusy, tomato, cilantro and spicy-hot sauce, containing pieces of diced avocado, cucumber, onion and jalapeño. It's a snazzy fork-friendly salad in a glass, not to be confused with its cousin, ceviche, which contains raw, cooked-via-marination fish and/or shellfish mixed with spices, citrus juice, vegetables and/or peppers. Traditional shrimp cocktail, as we...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~"

04/05/2018

~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~

The Italians came up with the cure for the late-night movie-watching snack-attack centuries ago: Pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese). It's a no-nonsense, feed-me-now-snack, a quick-to-make side dish, and, it's a delicious foil for flavorful pasta sauces too. Choose any shape of pasta (short, fork-friendly shapes work best), and, if you have a link or a patty of breakfast sausage on-hand, not only do the flavors melt into the mixture like they were born to be there, without almost any extra effort, it transforms the dish into a hearty meal for one or two. A simple,...... View full recipe for "~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~"

03/30/2018

~Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat~

An all-purpose gravy that goes well on almost anything? You betcha. One basic recipe, made with a few pantry staples, and, in a few minutes (tick, tock), voila: a great gravy that carnivores and vegetarians can sit down to enjoy, together, in harmony. Yes indeedy, sans pan drippings, a luxurious gravy to drizzle over all things gravy goes on: chicken-fried or smothered anything, meatloaf or hamburger steaks, open-faced bread-, biscuit- or waffle- sandwiches, French fries or poutine, rice or noodles, steamed or roasted vegetables, etc., etc., etc. Read on: Got drippings leftover from a roast? Add them along w/the stock....... View full recipe for "~Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat~"

03/09/2018

~ T.G.I. No-Fuss-Friday Greek Pizza for Mel Tonight ~

I'm Mel -- I cook all week -- on weekends too. I cook for my family, friends, and, friends-of-friends. I even cook on TV, and it's all fun, but, every once in a while, I have occasion to cook for myself. Tonight is such a night, and, I am going Greek and easy and super-good. Why cook for myself when I don't have to? Because, with little effort, calorie for calorie, my food tastes much better than over-priced, lack-luster take out or delivery -- in the case of tonight's pizza, it's faster too. When it comes to pizza just for...... View full recipe for "~ T.G.I. No-Fuss-Friday Greek Pizza for Mel Tonight ~"

02/20/2018

~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~

Eat more fish. I've heard it too many times to count, and, I've preached it too many times to count. Joe and I love fish, especially white fish, so, for me, keeping it in our weekly meal rotation is easy. That said, serving it to people who've determined they dislike fish, or worse, trying to entice children to try fish, can be a tricky, fishy business. On such occasions, teriyaki fish fillets or fish skewers, served with a veggie stir-fry and some rice, is my go-to "just try it" fish dinner. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one...... View full recipe for "~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~"

01/15/2018

~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~

Welsh rarebit -- the original cheese toast. It's worth mention that I've only eaten what I believe to be the real-deal once. It was in the latter 1990's, in Wales, in the exquisite Coed-Y-Mwstwr Hotel (coy-dee-moo-ster). It came to me as a complimentary side to a lovely salad (which I ordered after returning from shopping in the city of Cardiff). The cheese toast, along with everything else in this hotel, was perfect. I kicked off my high-heels and enjoyed it in my lavish room, overlooking the How-Green-was-My-Valley countryside, with a very English G&T too. I gave cheese toast a lot...... View full recipe for "~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~"

01/12/2018

~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~

I adore our country's famous Senate bean soup -- chocked full of navy beans, shards of meat from ham hocks or shanks, onion and celery. Everything from its rich history to is smokey flavor and creamy texture is perfection -- I've even had the pleasure of eating in the Senate dining room in Washington, D.C. That said, I have vegetarian friends -- not many, but, they enjoy making their presence known in my kitchen. When they do, I'm happy to go meatless for a few hours. Yesterday was one such afternoon. A pot of this relatively-easy-to-make vegetarian version of my...... View full recipe for "~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~"

10/31/2017

~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~

A quick-to-make sautéed mushroom and onion sauce, tossed into some buttered egg noodles was a childhood favorite of mine. Oddly, I was a child who liked mushrooms -- a lot. "Noodles & 'shrooms", that's what we called it. If there's an official name for it, I don't know it. Sometimes it showed up on our dinner table tossed together in a bowl, as a simple side-dish to a roasted chicken. Other times it was layered on a platter, as an elegant bed for "skinny" pan-fried pork chops. Sometimes my mom sautéed the sauce in bacon fat, other times she used...... View full recipe for "~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~"

10/26/2017

~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~

Walk into any Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch grocery store or a market that caters to a region with a large Amish population, then, walk up to the refrigerated deli-case. There you'll find several traditional, high-quality side-dishes: eggy-rich macaroni- and potato- salads, creamy cole slaw, sweet 'n sour slaw and pepper-cabbage. Next, take a stroll down the condiment isle and gaze at the array of honey-mustard- and sweet and sour- salad dressings, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, vinegar-marinated vegetables or mustardy chow-chows (a crunchy vegetable medley in mustard sauce). Lastly, check out the sweet treats: streusel-topped Dutch-apple, rhubarb-streusel and shoo-fly...... View full recipe for "~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~"

08/25/2017

~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~

These appetizers were one of our Happy Valley tailgate traditions. I fondly remember one of our members, Joan Reilly, making them for our early AM pre-tailgate tailgates -- prior to leaving for the stadium. She and her husband Joe lived close to Beaver Stadium, and, it was not unusual for us to meet, as a group, on the cul-de-sac in front of their house, to wait for our friend with the RV to arrive from Harrisburg. While we were all chatting and sipping Stan's Bloody Mary's, Joan would pass around a baking sheet full of her cheesy English-muffin-based crabmeat canapés....... View full recipe for "~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~"

07/27/2017

~ New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas~

Whenever we've been out of town for a few days, the moment we cross the Centre County line and are within 20-30 minutes of home, we discuss what we are most hungry for (what food we've missed the most on our trip), and, we order it, for pick up or eat in, at one of our favorite eateries. Typically, that revolves around stopping at a pizza shop, a Chinese takeout place, or, a Mexican joint. When it comes to the latter, I'm usually ordering up a plate of seriously cheesy enchiladas. Enchiladas are one of those Tex-Mex specialties that taste...... View full recipe for "~ New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas~"

07/08/2017

~ One-Bowl Lunch on the Run: Tuna Macaroni Salad ~

I rarely make the time to sit down and eat lunch and almost never find the time to go out to lunch. I prefer to munch and crunch, while working, standing in my kitchen or sitting at my computer. For example: I am munching on some chopped cantaloupe, here at my desk, for breakfast, while writing this, at 6:30AM. Whatever time I get my mid-day hunger attack today, I'm literally going to, "stick a fork in it": tuna macaroni salad. I made it yesterday, am writing about it today, and shall enjoy it, in a small bowl, as a light,...... View full recipe for "~ One-Bowl Lunch on the Run: Tuna Macaroni Salad ~"

06/28/2017

~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~

Spaghetti with ground meat sauce. It's an all-American Italian-American classic that makes short work of pleasing all the people all the time (while feeding all of them at the same time) -- especially kids. Ground beef, diced onion, crushed tomatoes, herbs and seasonings. It might be basic and simple, but it's a meal everyone wants to come home to. I raised three boys, and, in terms of spaghetti with meat sauce, there was one variation they enjoyed with equal enthusiasm: my bolder, fuller-flavored "sausage sandwich sauce" -- that is what they affectionately named it. "Sausage sandwich sauce." That's what my...... View full recipe for "~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~"

05/23/2017

~Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries~

Sweet potatoes can be cooked via all the same methods all-purpose spuds can. Baked, boiled, pan-fried, grilled, oven-roasted, microwaved, and, last but not least, deep-fried. When it comes to sweet potatoes, I am a bone fide lover of this healthy super-food, and, when it comes to cooking and eating them, I love them in any form, any time of year. I am an equal-opportunity sweet potato eater. Oven-roasted sweet potato fries, which pair great with so many things (especially poultry and pork) are easy to make, but I'm not going to lie, if they're not prepared correctly, "just so", they...... View full recipe for "~Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries~"

05/05/2017

~ Luxurious: Cod Bathed in EVOO w/Fresh Tomatoes ~

As a kid, I adored frozen fish sticks and canned stewed tomatoes -- I still do. That said, as a grownup, I much prefer the taste of a sweet, fresh, white fish fillet paired with a few acidic, fresh tomatoes. Sometimes I bake them together in parchment with thyme and some white wine, and sometimes I broil them drizzled with melted butter and a bit of lemon and pepper. Tonight I'm using a method similar to shallow poaching, except: extra-virgin olive oil is used in place of the traditional liquid. Today's recipe is simple enough to serve for a weeknight...... View full recipe for "~ Luxurious: Cod Bathed in EVOO w/Fresh Tomatoes ~"

03/18/2017

~ Simply: My Butter-Braised Cabbage & Egg Noodles ~

Throughout Eastern Europe, cooks make a side-dish that basically consists of green cabbage and egg noodles. It's quick-and-easy, totally-delicious, unpretentious, old-world comfort food. I simply refer to it as "cabbage and noodles" or "cabbage noodles", because every country has their own ethnic name and spelling for it and every cook is adamant that "their people" invented it -- the Eastern Europeans are no different than the French or the Italians in that respect. Sigh. Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to halusky, haluski, halushki, haluska etc. They define them as "thick, soft, dumplings or noodles", and, "the name can refer...... View full recipe for "~ Simply: My Butter-Braised Cabbage & Egg Noodles ~"

03/13/2017

~ Walking Dead: It's Chili & Mac 'n Cheese. Together. ~

On Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, while scouting around in search of food and guns, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), fall through a rooftop into a room filled with just that, guns and miscellaneous canned foods and military RTE (ready-to-eat) meals. Rick goes full-blown romantic on Michonne. After the obligatory sex, they eat a candlelit feeding-frenzy dinner and Rick presents her with a surprise, and it's not jewelry -- it's one last type of RTE meal. "I've been waiting to show you this one," Rick says, "It's chili. And mac 'n cheese. Together." The scene wasn't over...... View full recipe for "~ Walking Dead: It's Chili & Mac 'n Cheese. Together. ~"

03/05/2017

~ For those times when you just gotta have: Frittata ~

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snack, a frittata is a relatively-easy quick-to-make, hunger-satisfying meal. It tastes great served hot, warm, at room temperature or cold, and, leftovers reheat beautifully in the microwave, which make it perfect for those who brown bag lunch. A bit of slicing, dicing or chopping is typically required, but it's minimal, and, since frittata can be a tasty way to use up yummy leftovers, there are times when no knife is necessary. As per my Italian girlfriend Eileen, her mom and grandmother made frittata to stretch leftovers -- to turn them into a family-friendly...... View full recipe for "~ For those times when you just gotta have: Frittata ~"

02/26/2017

~ Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (Prostitute's Spaghetti) ~

Say what? Yep. "Alla puttanesca" literally means "in the style of a prostitute". The day I heard that, I hit the streets -- in search of more history behind this delicious dish's sordid-sounding name. Not growing up in an Italian household or in the company of a lot of Italian-Americans, I was in my early 30's in the early '80's watching Mario Batali make it and translate the name on TV. I did a double take. Before that, I thought puttanesca was just a quick-to-make pasta dish with a vibrant sauce that one could throw together using a few pantry...... View full recipe for "~ Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (Prostitute's Spaghetti) ~"

02/04/2017

~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~

Crab meat. I love it. Fresh, frozen or pasteurized, it's an ingredient that has rocked my food world. With it, I make an array of hot and cold appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. I use it to make steamy crab bisque and add it to several seafood soups and stews too. I adore an ice-cold crab salad or crab salad sandwich, and, I can't resist a well-made crab cake or crab cake sandwich. There's more. I can't count the of number classic main-course meals I make with crab. If you've eaten in a Chinese-American restaurant you know what crab Rangoon is...... View full recipe for "~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~"

01/28/2017

~ Have a Blast: Hot and Crispy Firecracker Shrimp ~

Start with really big shrimp (no alternative facts here). Simmer down. What's the point of having a blog and being on social media if you're going to lie -- about anything? Here on KE, where I test, write and photograph my own recipes, it's easy to speak truth. Experience has taught: the bigger the shrimp the better the firecracker shrimp, and, since their count, which determines their size, is clearly-labeled, you will have no where to run or hide if you don't use 21-25 count (jumbo), or ideally, 16-20 count (extra-jumbo) shrimp, to make this appetizer. No matter what you...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Blast: Hot and Crispy Firecracker Shrimp ~"

01/25/2017

~ Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese ~

Crab meat, scallions and seasoned cream cheese all wrapped up in a wonton, deep-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce (like duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce). It's a staple appetizer on most Chinese-American restaurant menus, and, an appetizer I almost never order. Why? Because 99% of the time, both the sweet flavor and delicate texture of the crab (or worse -- imitation crab) is 100% lost to the cream cheese -- akin to seasoned cream cheese spread. With Rangoon (the capital city of Burma) in its name, most people think this is an authentic Asian specialty. It's...... View full recipe for "~ Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese ~"

01/15/2017

~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~

Classic and fantastic, I made clams casino over the weekend -- a retro Italian-American favorite appetizer that pleases everyone who loves clams. Steamed clams, on the halfshell, slathered with an herby bacon-and-garlic compound butter, topped with a mound of crunchy bacon-and-breadcrumb mixture, baked until golden brown. What's not to love. There were just three of us, two guys and moi -- we ate two dozen and would have eaten more (and I stopped at four). Earlier in the afternoon, as I was preparing the compound butter and breadcrumb topping, it occurred to me how yummy the butter would be if...... View full recipe for "~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~"

01/12/2017

~ Classier Classic Clams (on the Halfshell) Casino ~

I've never gone to a casino for the sole purpose of gambling -- I've never even had the urge to. That said, thanks to more than a few of Joe's business trips I've been to Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City several times for days-at-a-time -- complete with gorgeous hotel rooms, tickets to live shows and dinners in fabulous restaurants. That said, casinos are indeed a glitzy, glamorous full-of-fun place to visit. They're akin to amusement parks for adults, and, just like the latter, "the bloom comes off the rose" rather quickly -- fun facades that suck up your bucks....... View full recipe for "~ Classier Classic Clams (on the Halfshell) Casino ~"

12/15/2016

~ Holiday Appetizers 101: Make Lots of Crab Balls ~

As I always tell people, "You can never be too rich or too thin, and, when it comes to holiday entertaining, you can never make too many crab balls." Crab balls are to the cocktail table what rum balls are to the dessert buffet. You do not want to risk running out of either one. I've never hosted a party or attended one where the crab balls weren't the first appetizer to be inhaled by the guests -- and nobody can eat just one. I plan on a minimum of three-four per person. "So", you ask, "what makes a crab...... View full recipe for "~ Holiday Appetizers 101: Make Lots of Crab Balls ~"

12/05/2016

~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~

Pirogi -- a subject I know a thing or three about. I grew up eating these pillowy handmade-with-love potato-stuffed-dumplings in the kitchens of my Baba and Tettie (my Eastern European grandmother and her sister). I was about age seven when they added me as a semi-skilled laborer to the assembly line of their twice-yearly day-long pirogi-making marathon. Once filled and formed, they were frozen flat on trays, packaged into bags and divided amongst their two families -- to be cooked and served as a meatless main course or a side-dish to my mom's holiday baked ham or a roasted pork...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~"

11/20/2016

~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~

This sinfully-simple, creamy-rich butternut squash bisque is one of my favorite go-to Turkey Day specialties. I don't serve it every year, but on years when my husband has harvested a bumper crop, it starts off our traditional feast. It looks pretty and tastes divine. There's more: It is indeed easy to prepare, and, it can be made two-three days in advance too. All it needs is a gentle reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and it's ready to take to the table and serve. A bit about butternut squash: Butternut squash is one of our healthy super-foods. That’s...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~"

10/11/2016

~Slovak Grated Potato & Onion Dumplings (Haluski)~

Potatoes have been a staple in the Eastern European diet for centuries. When Columbus discovered potatoes on Hispaniola (an Island in the Caribbean), he could never have imagined how they would eventually revolutionize eating habits globally. In the harsh, unforgiving climates of Eastern Europe in particular, the starchy potato got cooked and used in every imaginable way -- it literally saved generations from starvation. In the process of creating a long list of delectable potato dishes, these resourceful people experimented with their "exotic" tuber and found they could make vodka (an alcoholic beverage), potato starch (similar to corn starch), confectioners'...... View full recipe for "~Slovak Grated Potato & Onion Dumplings (Haluski)~"

09/05/2016

~Pasta a la Margherita: Dinner's in about 30 Minutes~

Labor day might be the unofficial end of Summer, but, for the record, I don't declare it official until my garden is void of tomatoes and basil. Having just finished making big vats of marinara and small batches of pesto for the freezer, while waning a bit, my tomatoes and basil are still very much alive and well and standing tall in my garden. So, Summer, you are just going to have to hang out with me a few more days -- and pasta a la Margherita will be a perfect dinner tonight. Hot Pasta + Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella &...... View full recipe for "~Pasta a la Margherita: Dinner's in about 30 Minutes~"

08/29/2016

~ Batter-Dipped & Deep-Fried Campari Tomatoes ~

Tossing and turning -- I couldn't sleep at all last night. A lot of "stuff" rattles around in my brain on a daily basis. Problem is, if I don't let go of "it" before I turn in for the night, I'd be better off not turning in, because: all that "stuff" seems worse -- magnified -- lying in bed in the dark. Last night was one such night, and, in the midst of a host of keep-me-up-all-night issues, wondering if I could deep-fry our homegrown* (read about this below) Campari tomatoes entered into the mix. The answer is heck yea:...... View full recipe for "~ Batter-Dipped & Deep-Fried Campari Tomatoes ~"

08/15/2016

~Warm Mexican Sweet Street Corn Cups (Esquites)~

When you travel, if you enjoy exploring the ethereal world of street food, Mexico City just might be the mecca for this foodie sport. The native locals call it street-food-hopping -- it's bar hopping for foodies. While it's oh-so-much fun to participate in a street-to-street eat-fest like this with well-seasoned friends who have their own list of top-secret hot-spots, the street scene is so vibrant, if you're alone, you can sign on to take a professionally-arranged "street eats" or "taco tour" too. When it comes to Mexican street foods, high on my short list are: Barbacoa (agave-wrapped slow-roasted lamb barbecue),...... View full recipe for "~Warm Mexican Sweet Street Corn Cups (Esquites)~"

08/12/2016

~Classic Grilled Mexican Sweet Street Corn (Elotes)~

It's that time of year: sweet corn season. Where I live here in Central Pennylvania, it's hard to drive a mile in any direction and not encounter vendors selling it at a farmer's market or a home-grown stand in front of their farm. While in season, I buy it twice a week. We enjoy it, on and off the cob, cooked in lot of ways -- I even freeze the cooked kernels. For six years now, I make it a point to post a recipe or two each year that gives my sweet-corn-loving readers another way to serve this beloved...... View full recipe for "~Classic Grilled Mexican Sweet Street Corn (Elotes)~"